New St. Louis County Prosecutor Plans To Decriminalize Child Support Delinquency

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell wants to decriminalize the failure to pay child support.

Clayton, MO – A controversial change by the new St. Louis County prosecutor would decriminalize not paying child support and could directly benefit one of his new appointees.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell announced Friday that his office was moving toward prosecuting child support cases as civil matters, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The change would mean delinquent parents would no longer face criminal charges for failure to pay child support.

The St. Louis County Police Association put out a memo on Friday in response to the new prosecutor’s latest proposed changes.

“The decriminalization of the failure to pay child support puts livelihoods of hardworking single parents in jeopardy,” Joe Patterson, the police association’s president, said in a statement posted to their official Facebook page.

Bell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that jailing the parent doesn’t accomplish the end goal of feeding and supporting his or her family.

“When you have two people applying for a job who are similarly situated, and one has a felony conviction even if it’s just for child support, we’d be lying if we said that didn’t hurt people’s chances of being successful at getting a job,” he said. “And most people I talk to, single moms or single dads, they just want the support for their family.”

He said it doesn’t help the custodial parent when the court locks up the delinquent parent.

“They don’t want the noncustodial parent to go to jail. They just want the support. And right now, their opportunities are limited, which will not only hurt them, but also hurt the family because that person’s job earning capacity is limited,” Bell explained.

But critics of the proposed change are questioning the motive behind the change, and have pointed to Bell’s newly appointed newly-appointing director of operations, Tim Swope.

Swope could be directly affected by his boss’s initiative because he is currently making court-ordered payments to his ex-wife for the support of their three children.

The former chief of the North County Police Cooperative reached a settlement with his ex-wife to pay $500 a month toward the unpaid support balance, and currently owes about $18,000, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Bell disputed that assertion and said he had not known of Swope’s child support situation before Jan. 4, and said that the knowledge hadn’t changed his stance on the matter.

“My positions on child support were consistent before Mr. Swope was involved in the campaign,” he said. “He and his ex-wife had a civil matter that was handled in civil court, and he is in compliance with that.”

Despite the new information, Bell has continued to support Swope.

“Once they violate the law or a court order, that’s different, but that’s not the situation he’s in,” Bell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s been handled. His kids have lived with him for the last eight years, and for someone like him who risked his life for St. Louis County residents, I’m proud to have him in the office.”

Swope recently left the North County Police Cooperative under a cloud, but the exact reason for his departure was not made public.

He resigned suddenly in September of 2018 after being abruptly suspended and placed on unpaid leave, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Comments (66)
No. 1-27
Just-My-Thoughts
Just-My-Thoughts

So I guess that means that we the tax payers will have to pay for other peoples kids even if they have a job to support them? I'm sick and tired of paying for everyone elses obligations, You made them, you take care of them.

Readbetweenthelines
Readbetweenthelines

In Australia it’s a very different set of rules, so I can’t really comment. But if that’s what the end result will be it is sounding like a social justice system.... when will governments (in all western civilised countries) learn that the hard working people have had enough of these SJW’s bleeding our pockets dry bc they choose victim hood over responsibility and ownership?!

JBo
JBo

Sooooo...what's the incentive for these delinquent people to pay child support? Is the DA going to write a strongly worded letter to them? Threaten them with double secret civil penalties? Make faces at them?

Skidoo
Skidoo

After so many decades of real progress by holding deadbeat parents accountable for their progeny. This is a real step backwards.

MrsS
MrsS

I'm torn; part of me feels that the family courts in the US are strongly biased toward giving custody to the mother, and demanding support from the father, even when the reverse might be a better arrangement. I also think that given her choice, a sane parent who isn't receiving support from the other parent, would rather get the money than send her ex to jail. What happened to garnishing wages? Why must they go to jail?

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

Realistically, it has ALWAYS been a CIVIL matter. FACT WARNING for the easily triggered, our ancestors fled Britain for many reasons, one of which was debtor's prison. That is all the government overreach of abducting and caging a MAN for failing to support his alleged children is. Whether a person supports their bastard ( let us be honest here ) offspring or not is none of the States' concern. It's funny, a WOMAN has a child she can't support, she get's TANF, Section 8, etc. - but a MAN who sires a child he can't afford, the scoundrel goes to jail. Hmmmm.

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

And spare me the silly arguments, if YOU don't want to support HIS kids, stop voting for politicians who make you do so, literally at gunpoint.

Skidoo
Skidoo

There's a big, fat scum sucking SOB out there who needs to meet Jesus.

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

Word to all you State Supremacists, this is another sign of WHAT IS COMING - a dying dollar, ridiculously dishonest employment reports, entire states running out of pension money - states and municipalities can not AFFORD to prosecute these cases anymore. In southeastern VA, the various CWAs' are already defacto decriminalizing non support. They just can't handle the workload$$$.

Heatherlynn
Heatherlynn

I wonder how far behind he is on his child support payments.

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

I don't have kids, idiots. See, I actually THINK, like a MAN, I am not ruled by emotions, like a WOMAN.

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

If the Jesus comment is meant for me, I'll simply point out I'm not a Hebrew and have no need for the advice of a dead Rabbi murdered by His own people.

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

But the ad hominem venom is amusing, as usual, no one can articulate an argument to my point(s). Oh well.

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

The commenters on this forum are some of the dumbest I've ever dealt with. But it is so much fun to get you going!

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

One last thing, I know alot of people here are near brain death or almost syncopic from severe disturbance of their biases, BUT, how do any of YOU think America functioned before Family Courts? Just chew on that for awhile. Maybe even do a little research. Ta-ta Helots!

SAAM
SAAM

My, my! Someone seems a little butt hurt and deranged.

Bld54
Bld54

Criminalizing nonpayment of child support should be hand-in-hand with the criminalization of refusal to allow visitation, which I believe is the more criminal of the two. The fact is, they are both civil matters and should go together. You want visitation? Pay child support. You want child support? Allow visitation.

SAAM
SAAM

In my state, a civil judge orders child support payments be made by one of the parents. If payments are not made, the civil judge issues an civil Order For Arrest. This civil Order For Arrest is not for failure to pay child support, it's for Contempt of Court for disregarding the judge's orders. The contempt charge can be cured by paying arrears.

Buzz17
Buzz17

I'm looking at everything--except Mr. Kersey's ridiculous comments. He presents no argument for or against anything & then has hissy-fits because people don't counter his absent "arguments. Can't BLM block him? Anyway, rather than jailing parents who haven't paid their child support, why not assign them to work squads where they're assigned to public service jobs such as cleaning up problem properties, etc.? Their "wages" would be paid to the custodial parent, & some necessary jobs would get done in the city. Putting them in jail just adds to the tax burden. If they're not dangerous felons, seems to me there are other ways to deal with this problem. Has anyone ever asked custodial parents for ideas? They need the money, so they have more at stake than any of us.

Cna 2018
Cna 2018

I have been dealing with child support system since 2008 here in illinois. I was given the choice one when I was in court with my ex-husband to have him thrown in jail for not paying his child support but I told them no don't put him in cause the only people who would suffer would have been my kids cause he still got them every other weekend. And now at this point he doesn't pay his child support and doesn't even call or ask to see them and hasn't in almost 5 years. It does no good to put the payee of child support in jail because if they are truly trying to find a job and pay the support then they won't be able to find gainful employment with a felony conviction on their record. So it's going to be an endless cycle of them in and out of jail cause they will never be able to catch up on the payment.

investigator
investigator

My ex was only ordered to pay $30 a week because he said he could only find part-time work. I knew he was lying, so I borrowed a friends car and followed him for three days and took photos of him at his job. I contacted the Court.....he owed about 4000.........they set up a hearing and the Judge ordered him to pay $1500.00 or spend 90 days in jail. He laughed and said "I'll take the 90 days". Judge said, no problem. Two days later the Court contacted me and told me the current wife had paid the $1500! Btw, he never visited our son....when I would beg him to see him, he'd say he didn't have time!!

BlueLM101
BlueLM101

Hey Moron!!! There are a series of steps and remediation that a non-custodial parent can take prior to it becoming a criminal event and they having to serve prison time. The problem is that delinquent non-custodial parents attempt to run away from the issue rather than use the tools readily available to them. Criminalizing delinquency is a deterrent.

BKL
BKL

Stop having kids by married men then you wouldn't have that problem

Paul Kersey Jr.
Paul Kersey Jr.

Hey Buzz, seeing as we are hypothesizing, why don't "we" just TAKE THE KIDS AWAY from both the parents? If there is a support issue, it indicates the mother cannot support her child. So let's go Full Retard Police State and incarcerate both parents, are they not equally culpable? Especially post Roe v. Wade? Or maybe the State should excuse itself from peoples' private affairs. What a shocking concept! An argument you can't counter is not a "hissy fit". You do realize this alleged republic existed for a long time without "family courts", don't you? That is really my only point. Sorry for the hissy fit! Moron.

ArizonaG30
ArizonaG30

bastards can have fun making them but can't pay for them and Mr. Bell is just going to make it easier for the scum

LetGodSortItOut
LetGodSortItOut

cops being Hypocrites! Im a little pissed the fuck off here. Fucking cops of all people should appreciate the criminality of the "Family " Courts. The divorce rates for law enforcement are way over 50%. Cops get SCREWED with little or no custody, false R.O.s, and criminally high levels of child support. And if you have to get a 2nd job to pay CS, often to a substandard mom or a mom that works part time, the judges say " YOU'LL FIND A WAY OFFICER."
Family courts despise cops even more than other men. But let me guess ,you're all way better than the people you police right? Or the negative comments I see from asshole's on here are from guys who have yet to have the Devastating experience of family courts. Get off your fuckings high horse. Even if the hypocritical commenters on here believe they are so much better than all civilians, surely you all have fathers brothers sons who have been fucked over and raped by the family court system.

LetGodSortItOut
LetGodSortItOut

Can we have some law enforcement folks that actually are paying child support chime in? No brainwashed aholes.